“Why are you in this?”
Many have asked me this. What they mean is: if you are a citizen, why the hell are you fighting for the rights of undocumented people?
Here is my answer:
I fight because I can’t stand my privilege knowing that my boyfriend, my friend, my cousin and 12 million more people can’t take the things I do for granted.
That the bus, train and bike aren’t an option, but a must. That attending college isn’t a struggle for excellent grades and a high ACT score but one of $7,000 out of your pocket. That one mistake does not mean risking being sent to a country I don’t remember or know. That I can help choose the leaders of what I consider to be my country. That the government cannot break up my family for wanting a shot at a better life.
I stand by my undocumented friends, many of whom I have come to consider family, because they should not live in fear. No one should. Because they deserve full rights, recognition, and protection under the law…not persecution.
This past summer I was almost brought to tears at a rally where undocumented youth my age wrote their dreams on balloons and let them go…I am a sucker for symbolism. It wasn’t “great wealth” that was written on them, but “doctor”, “teacher”, “college”, and “family unity”; things that no one should be prevented from having or achieving if they are willing to work.
From that day on, I promised to myself to be not just an ally, but a devoted one. To support the dreams on those balloons with what I can, when I can, to the best of my ability.
It means that I have to make time. That I will attend rallies and organizational meetings. That I will call my representatives when necessary. That I will send faxes to DHS when the need arises (hopefully never). That I will spread the word about the struggle . That I will listen to my friends when they come to me and will not share what they reveal to me in confidence. It means sacrifices, but still, I cannot compare mine to those of my undocumented friends. It is their struggle after all.
Why am I in this? Because I want to make the world, my world, our world, a fairer place.
When the lives of those around you are improved…so is yours.
It is now my turn to ask you: Why aren’t you in this?
by Rafael Jiménez, IYJL member.